Despite the title, the new book by George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen has little to do with the economy. Instead, the author has crafted a how-to guide for living in the information-glutted 21st century, and a convincing defense of our just-Google-it culture, which many say is dumbing down the species. His four best ideas:
The Rain Man stereotype is wrong. Many people with autistic traits function quite well in society. In fact, we can learn from this "neurodiversity," since autistics excel at mentally ordering information, a key trait in the digital age.
Our constant Twittering and e-mail checking may look like ADD, but they actually mean we're paying better attention to long-running stories, such as a presidential election or a family member's career.
Google is making us smarter. The Internet has rendered it unnecessary to store a lot of "general knowledge" in our heads. Instead, we can specialize in the areas that truly matter to us.
As culture moves online, it becomes easier to copy and share. "When access is easy," writes Cowen, "we tend to favor the short, the sweet, and the bitty." Hence the rise of Twitter, six-word memoirs, and other small doses of culture.